Lavender Sugar Recipe

Yum! Lavender sugar for your coffee.Lavender sugar. Make this. But only if you like lavender. If you don’t, you will hate this. And I don’t want you to make things you hate. I’m obsessed with lavender. I love the smell but I also love that you can use edible lavender to scent and flavor just about anything. When the weather starts to turn colder, I love to use enhanced sugars in my coffee.  So I decided to make lavender sugar instead of buying it at the spice shop. This lavender sugar recipe is super easy and your house will smell amazing.

Easy lavender sugarYou just need sugar and edible lavender. I found this lavender at Mother’s Market but kind of had to look around town for a minute before I finally found it there. Whole Foods didn’t have any (What the heck, Whole Foods?! I thought you carried all the hippie things.). But you can buy lavender sugar here.  This little box of lavender has about 2 TBSP in it. And you only need 1 TBSP for this so maybe use the rest to make this lavender lemonade…But if you are going to buy it, and you like lavender, I suggested buying more so you have it on hand.

Edible lavender for lavender sugar.I usually hate my tiny food processor but it worked perfectly for this recipe. First you add the lavender and give it a whir to break it down. Oh the smells that will waft through your kitchen!

Easy lavender sugar recipe.Next add 1 cup of sugar to the lavender and chop it up again.

Easy lavender sugar recipe.Finally, mix the remaining sugar and the lavender sugar from the food processor together with a whisk. Have I mentioned this smells really great? Because it does.  It will take all your strength but you should probably refrain from burying your face in the bowl of lavender sugar.

Lavender sugar makes a great gift idea.Lavender sugar can be used in your coffee, tea, baking, or just about any other way that you would use sugar.

Lavender sugar for .your fall coffee and bakingIt also would make a great holiday gift idea. Just add a little tag with some suggestions for uses and you’ve got yourself the easiest homemade gift ever. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. I’m going to go smell it right now. And maybe have a spoonful. But just one or two.

Lavender Sugar Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP edible lavender, dried
  • 2 cups sugar

Instructions

  1. Add lavender to a small food processor, grind for 10 - 15 seconds.
  2. Add 1 cup of sugar to the food processor, grind with lavender for 10 - 15 seconds.
  3. Pour contents from food processor to a bowl.
  4. Add remaining cup of sugar and whisk with lavender sugar.
  5. Store in an air tight container.
http://www.cupcakesandcutlery.com/lavender-sugar-recipe/

 

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Interactive Chocolate Tasting

It’s that time of year. There are about to be tons of holiday parties and get togethers over the course of the next 9 weekends, beginning with Halloween and going strong all the way through New Years. Many of these gatherings will be cocktail parties, where you make contact with a bunch of people but never really get to spend any quality time with any one person. Especially if you are hosting. So I really wanted to think of a way to connect with my guests should I choose to host something this year. And instead of serving a cocktail, which I know most of my regular readers are like, “Dude! That’s like your thing!” I’ve opted for a totally different beverage. Almond Milk.

Interactive chocolate tasting.Especially during the holidays, I crave time with my girlfriends. So I think a sit down dinner, for my closest pals, would be perfection. I’m not going to pretend that I would make all the food. No way, Jose. There are plenty of restaurants that put together a nice little spread that is super tasty. But my focus would really be on the dessert course. I’ve been wanting to host a really interactive dinner party for a while. You know, to get people off their phones and actually talking and working together? So I think an interactive chocolate tasting dessert course would be a wonderful idea. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate? And while there may be (there WOULD be) wine before and during dinner, dessert is going a different direction.

Set up a chocolate tasting for the dessert course of your next dinner party.To demonstrate how this chocolate tasting would work I picked up four different flavors of chocolate from Whole Foods (Hey chocolate lovers – Whole Foods has a ridiculous selection of chocolates. Just maybe refinance your house before you go…). Instead of making sure each person gets a piece of each flavor, each guest would have only one flavor of chocolate at their place setting. Then the guests would have to ask each other for their chocolate in order to taste them all. And only the host would know the flavors so the guests will have to talk to figure out what flavors are present. You guys, they make the weirdest flavors of chocolate bars now a days. This isn’t ground breaking, I realize, but sometimes we just need to be reminded to interact with people. Consider making a no-phones-at-the-table policy. And just think of how funny this could get. I mean, who would even guess that there were Pop Rocks in your chocolate bar?!

Silk Almond Milk for a dinner party. #sponThe perfect drink to serve with the chocolates is Silk Almond Milk. I went with the Unsweetened version but Vanilla would also work well. In fact, I know some people prefer the Vanilla over the Unsweetened because it adds a touch of sweetness to it. Since I don’t like sweet beverages (which us supes weird because I have the biggest sweet tooth ever, I prefer the Unsweetened. Over the summer I did this “cleanse” diet before my trip to Mexico. It wasn’t a typical cleanse, more of a really paired down diet of mostly roughage to clean out your system. And it allowed for some snacks and treats, totally my kind of cleanse. One of the treats was a glass of Almond Milk and some dark chocolate squares. YOU GUYS! It was so good and satisfying! I first tasted Almond Milk a long time ago and I was not a fan. But I’ve realized, over the years, each brand tastes a certain way and, by far, Silk is my favorite. Have you ever tried Almond Milk? You totally should. And if you have and you didn’t like it, try it again!

Interactive chocolate tasting to end a dinner party.The Silk Almond Milk acts sort of as a palette cleanser between chocolate flavors. And the unsweetened version is perfect for cutting the sweetness of the chocolate. Some of your guests might be expecting something a little more, fun, shall we say. And you can easily jazz their glass up with a splash of Kahlua or Bailey’s. I view this chocolate tasting as the gateway to being an Almond Milk convert. After trying it with the chocolate, I knew I could easily replace regular milk with Almond milk in just about every capacity. Except for my coffee. Give me the cream and nobody gets hurt.

Share chocolates with your friends and interact to find out what the flavors are. Put down your phones! #sponThe underlying point of this tasting is to try to remind our friends how much fun we could be having with each other, in real life. Not online and not on our phones. And there is lots to talk about with the chocolate. I mean, one of the chocolate flavors had cinnamon and bacon. That’s going to elicit some conversation for sure. And then the one filled with banana caramel and topped with pecans and pink salt? Yeah, there’s going to be some tasting notes about that one. And it’s always fun to surprise your guests with a little spicy chocolate which is my fave.

Dessert course with Silk Almond Milk. #sponI put out a centerpiece with pretty macaroons and macarons (because I think it’s funny to have both) along with a carafe of Silk Almond Milk for refills. Some people might not be as fond of chocolate as I am (but they are crazy and should probably not ever be invited again…) so it’s nice, as the hostess, to put out another option. And the colorful cookies add to the table decor. This might just be the easiest dessert course for a dinner party ever. But I love that the focus is on being with your friends and working together in the name of chocolate.

Pink and pretty dinner party.Want to try Silk Vanilla Almond Milk? Sign up for their eNewsletter and receive a coupon to try it for free. You’ll also be entered to win prizes each month, so you should probably go do it. I’ve been getting the newsletter for a few months now and I have to say, they do it right. Their newsletter always looks great, has tons of awesome info and they aren’t bombarding you with their product promotions all the time. I’m not kidding, try it with chocolate. So good! I love my Silk. And I think you will too.

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

School Milestone and Chocolate Soy Nut Butter Shake

Soy Butter and Chocolate Shake Recipe #StreamTeamMmmmm.  How yummy does that look? This is a chocolate soy nut butter shake. It may sound a little odd to you if you’ve never had soy nut butter (one of our fave pb alternatives). But for those of you who have tried it, you know that it is a great substitute when you are trying to get a peanut butter like taste or texture without it having any devil nuts. And I’m about to tell you why I made it.

netflix-logo-300

So I am happy to announce that I just became a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam! What that means is that, monthly,  I will be posting about my favorite movies and shows that can be found on Netflix. Let me give you a quick background on myself. I’m pretty obsessed with television. I graduated with a degree in Communications with an emphasis in TV and Film. It is my happy place. When I’m watching my favorite shows, it is my absolute escape and all is right with the world. I prefer sitcoms but also love reality, well written one hour shows (like Nashville and Revenge) and made for TV movies.

Netflix will be sending me prompts to help me round-up the shows and movies on their site that I want share with you. This month, they wanted us to talk about “firsts”. And there is one first that instantly jumped out at me and is totally relevant in my world right now. You guys, I joined the PTA. First time ever. Now, I don’t mean I joined by paying my $10 and getting a membership card. No. I mean, I joined and I’m involved. I’m making sh*t happen. I am the Recording Secretary and chairperson to two events as well as serving on several other committees. So far, it has been a bit crazy. A lot of us are new and learning as we go. But I am realizing just how important PTA can be to the students. That is not to say there hasn’t been any drama. Because there has. From what I am hearing though, that is par for the course. I’m excited to be part of this great group of parents, trying to give the kids the best school year ever.

parks-and-rec-on-netflix

 

That is not to say that there aren’t times when I feel like I am in an episode of Parks and Recreation. With the red tape Leslie faces to get anything done and the running of a city department full of big personalities, there are some parallels to what one may find in a PTA experience. But that kind of stuff makes me happy. I love people watching and schools are kind of one of the best places to do that. Not in an I’m totally making fun of these people and judging them kind of way. But schools are their own little communities with mini mayors like my youngest son who like to know and say hi to each and every kid we pass to the “graders” as my oldest calls the upper graders, who are trying to figure out their sense of style and where they fit in. And, of course, the parents are pretty fun to watch too. From an observation stand point, schools are ripe with story lines.

As close as you can get to a peanut butter chocolate shake without nuts. #StreamTeamAnd since I’m focused on school, I decided to make a treat that my nut allergic son could eat. You guys, some of the best gossip I hear from my oldest son comes straight from the nut free lunch table. And while he won’t be eating this shake at school, I thought it would be the perfect treat for eating while watching some movies about school. All you need is some vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and soy nut butter (or Sunbutter which is made with sunflower seeds and is super yummy) and some milk. I need to pause her for a moment and tell you that this Midnight Moo syrup from Trader Joe’s is crazy good. It is much thicker than normal chocolate syrup and more rich. It was perfect for this shake. And also perfect for squeezing straight in to your mouth hole.

Soy Nut Butter and Chocolate Shake Recipe. #StreamTeamI just made a single serving so to my small blender cup I added two scoops of vanilla ice cream and soy nut butter.

Nut free soy butter and chocolate shake. #StreamTeamThen I added the chocolate syrup and milk and blended away.

Soy nut butter and chocolate shake. #StreamTeamSo yum! I added some mini chocolate chips to the top to give it a little more visual interest and a little bit of crunch when you sip. The straw is really just for show. Straws are just a way to make you drink your shake slower and make your head feel like it is going to explode from all the work you are putting in just to get to the shake. My son loved it. And so did I. I’m hoping next month’s prompt is something about losing weight though…

Netflix picks for school themed movies. #StreamTeamThese first four movies are for the adults and older kids, if you think they are ready for them. I am probably going to hold off with Ferris Bueller’s Day off for a while because my kids would get too many ideas. But School of Rock would be awesome for them. While these don’t focus on the parliamentary process they are school focused and awesome. And you can totally celebrate some “firsts” with these movies as your guide.

School of Rock : First time on stage, first band, first time you really find what you are passionate about

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off : First time calling in sick to school while not really being sick (but having to deal with consequences, of course…)

The Breakfast Club : First detention, first time realizing that people sometimes aren’t what they appear

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School : Lots of firsts in this one, should only be shown to age 14 and older and probably with a parent to explain and talk about most of it…but it has the Ramones.  So thumbs up.

School picks for kids on Netflix. #StreamTeamFor the kids, there are awesome school movies for them too.

High School Musical : First love, first major life decision about where to go to college, lots of talking points in this one.

Spy School : First lesson in trust and telling tall tales and the consequences that come with it.

Casper’s Scare School : And since Halloween is next week, it just makes sense to go to scare school.

Which of these have you seen?

*I was provided compensation for being a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Easy Halloween Decor Ideas

Bright and white Halloween decor. #sponThis post is sponsored by King’s Hawaiian. Head to their site to learn about “The Legend of Hallowaiian.”

My kids are so excited about Halloween this year. They have been wanting to decorate for the last few weeks. But since Halloween is my least favorite holiday I have been stalling. Then we found this awesome neon green skeleton. He reminded me that the decorations don’t need to be so gory and dark.  And because the decorations are only kept up for a short period of time I like easy Halloween decor ideas. And if they are inexpensive, that’s even better. When I saw these colorful, cheap, plastic vampire teeth it just made sense to do something with them. This super easy Vampire Teeth Garland couldn’t be easier.

Bright colored plastic fangs for an easy Halloween garland. #sponAll you need is some string and a pack of plastic vampire teeth. The teeth come in all kinds of colors depending on where you buy them. They even have a glow in the dark version which would work great if you had darker walls.

Yarn and plastic teeth are all you need for quick and easy Halloween decorating. #sponInstead of tying a knot, I did a simple loop around each side of the fangs with the yarn.

Black, white and bright Halloween decor. #sponAnd then I simply tied the other ends to my backdrop poles. This set up would work really great as a photo backdrop for your Halloween party. And of course you should set out extra teeth to use as props in the photos. Just make sure each person takes their teeth with them after they’ve used them. Because, ew. You can easy just keep these as garlands on the wall by adhering them with some washi or masking tape. How adorable would a black and white striped tape be with these?!  When taping your garlands, just make it look intentional. Create a small “x” with two pieces of tape on each end. Not only will this help to hold the string a little better, but no make it look like you designed it that way and didn’t just stick it up on the wall with tape.

Easy Halloween Decor with plastic fangs #sponThese teeth are always a favorite in my household. The persona my youngest son takes on when he has these in his mouth is hilarious. What do I not enjoy? The slobber.

Vampire teeth garland for cheap and easy Halloween decorating. #sponNeed some other quick and easy Halloween ideas? Here are some of my past posts:

Fang Mobile

Easy Wire “Boo” Sign

Clove and Orange “Pumpkins”

Neon green skeleton for fun Halloween decor. #sponI don’t know if you have seen it yet, but King’s Hawaiian launched “The Legend of Hallowaiian” at the beginning of October. It is fantastic! From the moment I saw their pineapple carved like a Jack-o-lantern, I fell in love! Their Hallowaiian.com site features TONS of fantastic Halloween party ideas for everything from the food (because, duh, it’s King’s Hawaiian and you want to eat at much of that as possible) to party decor ideas. They have created such a fun campaign with these aloha-inspired concepts. It’s so clever and full of fun – a true representation of the Taira family.

Vampwich sandwich idea from King's Hawaiian's "Legend of Hallowaiian"I mean, how cute are these vampwiches?!  And what is even better? You could win a trip for 2 to Hawaii just by sharing your own Halloween party! Just upload a few photos from your big bash and you might just win a glorious trip to the beautiful island of Lanai!  See full contest rules here.

For serious, this campaign makes my heart so happy and I’m glad to share it with you. Thank you for supporting the brands, like King’s Hawaiian, that let me do what I do.

Babies Have Great Parties : BabyShower.com

Use plastic animal cocktail charms as decor for food at a baby shower. I feel bad for babies. They get great parties and they aren’t even really there. I mean, they are there, in belly, but they don’t get to eat the yummy food or see how great the decor is. Baby showers are awesome. I contribute to Babyshower.com and while I won’t be having any more baby showers thrown for me (I have two wonderful boys but this bakery is closed) there is nothing more fun to plan than a baby shower. Next time you have to plan one you should definitely check out the site. You’ll find awesome content on there, and yeah, some of it is mine. ;) Some of the stuff pertains to non-baby entertaining as well. Like the cabbage salad recipe I shared. How stinking cute are those cocktail charms? While the mermaid might not be appropriate, these cute little animals could certainly enhance a baby shower theme.

DIY twist ties for party favors.And these DIY fabric twist ties are super simple and really great looking. I’m a big fan of candy or food as favors and simple packaging. You can find fabric to match any color scheme. And people love candy. Babyshower.com just released some great printable sheets to help you in your planning, so be sure to check them out! They include everything from budget worksheets to one to organizing invitation information. It’s a great resource!

And since it is that time of year, check out my inspiration for a Halloween themed baby shower.